Band of the Day

2012.04.02

Damien Jurado

Pacific Northwest indie-folk that just might break your heart
Fade out, this is where the credits roll our name.
lyrics from Arkansas

Damien Jurado is an indie singer/songwriter based out of Seattle, Washington, who has been active since 1995. After releasing two EPs, Jurado's debut album Waters Ave S was released on Sub Pop records in 1997, and was followed by the critically acclaimed Rehearsals For Departure in 1999. Jurado released two more full length albums on Sub Pop before switching to indie label Secretly Canadian, where he has recorded and released six albums. Damien and his brother Drake teamed up in 2010 to form Hoquiam and release an LP together. Jurado is known for implementing found sound and field recording techniques as well as experimenting with different recording styles and devices. His latest album, Maraqopa, was released in February of 2012. The album is his second consecutive collaboration with acclaimed producer Richard Swift.

Singer-songwriter Damien Jurado is a longtime staple of the Pacific Northwest rock scene, but his roots lie in a place completely removed from the alt-rock movement that rocked Seattle in the early 90s. While Nirvana and Pearl Jam were taking grunge to the top of the charts, Jurado and his early bandmate David Bazan (who later went on to found Pedro the Lion) were playing in the Christian punk band Coolidge, finding inspiration in religion instead of flannel. Though the longtime Seattle native has since moved away from the secular music world and embraced both simple folk and baroque pop, the power of his songs has only gotten stronger. Beginning with 1997’s Waters Ave S, Jurado’s solo career has been one of constant movement. He’s fronted a rootsy rock band, made bare folk records, released music on Seattle's fabled Sub Pop records and his own cassette tape label, and collaborated with Northwest luminaries Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, latter day Big Star), Jeremy Enigk (Sunny Day Real Estate) and Richard Swift. On Jurado’s 2012 album, Maraqopa, all the old adjectives applied to his music—stark, naked, intimate—are obliterated in favor of lush arrangements and wide expanses. Jurado’s voice and guitar are still the foundation of every song, but Swift envelopes each track with layers of swirling sound: pysch-rock guitar solos, glockenspiel and strings, galloping drums and, on “Life Away From the Garden,” a creepy children’s choir. “Nothing is the News” imagines Jurado as a desert blues prophet, moving from a softly strummed opening that apes Nick Drake’s Five Leaves Left into a sea of reverb and a Crazy Horse-worthy wash of feedback. “Museum of Flight” is pure chamber-pop bliss, with Jurado busting out his best falsetto to beg his lover to stay (“Don’t let go/I need you to hang around/I’m so broke and foolishly in love”) on a song that manages to make desperation sound beautiful. It’s a gorgeous companion piece to 2011’s Saint Bartlett and a declaration of intent from a songwriter who refuses to be pigeonholed.